The Kathmandu Valley is facing shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds and ventilators with the COVID-19 pandemic raging in the valley.
Most of the ICU beds and ventilators in hospitals that are treating COVID-19 are full and all of them say they cannot admit critical COVID-19 patients.
The Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) currently has 16 ICU beds dedicated to COVID-19, including six for suspected cases that are now used by infected patients, and five more beds with ventilators.
It is now treating 16 infected persons in ICU and four of the five ventilators are taken, according to member of the hospital's COVID-19 unit Dr Sabin Thapaliya. "No ICU bed remains not taken. One ventilator remains unused after a patient died yesterday," he added. "If any patient who needs to be admitted to the ICU arrives, we inform the Health Ministry which makes arrangements if ICU bed is vacant in any other hospital."
Critical COVID-19 patients cannot be admitted in any hospital in the Valley in lack of ICU beds.
Speaker of the APF Hospital in Balambu, a dedicated COVID-19 hospital right, Dr Pravin Nepal said all 20 ICU beds are now taken, and five more patients are being treated with ventilators. He revealed that individuals and other hospitals are now calling if any ICU bed is vacant. "We admitted a patient at ICU from Bir Hospital yesterday. We have not been able to take new patients today."
Director at the Teku Hospital, that treated COVID-19 patients right from the start of the pandemic, Sagar Rajbhandari said all 20 ICU beds are taken.
Private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients also have all their ICU beds taken. Director of Grande Hospital Dr Chakra Raj Pandey told Setopati that all 12 ICU beds allocated for COVID-19 are taken. "We don't have ICU beds now. All ventilators are also used."
He revealed that the hospital is working in a way allowing use of 18 ICU beds allotted for non-COVID-19 patients for COVID-19 patients. "There have been phone calls from Chitwan, Hetauda and Bhairahawa to admit five patients just now. Everyone pleads for ICU bed but we don't have any to admit. It is a very difficult situation."
The Health Ministry also acknowledges the shortage of ICU beds in the Valley. "Infection is surging. The situation is worsening by the day due to inability to stop infection," Deputy Spokesperson at the ministry Dr Samir Adhikari said.